In Tuesday’s teleconference, both Regan Smith and Jeb Burton discussed their aims and goals for the upcoming race at the Kentucky Speedway on June 27th. This past weekend at Road America, Regan Smith’s team placed 32nd after he fell behind due to contact with another driver. When asked what he would grade himself on the season so far, Smith stated that he would give himself either an A- or a B+. His philosophy on racing stems from the need to “test things out first and then learn what works and what does not.”
One reporter posed a question about Smith’s emotions regarding Saturday’s race, to which he responded that he was not happy about how things went down.
“The driving was more like slamming each other around than racing. It’s all in the rearview mirror now,” Smith said. “We had speed, especially our No. 7 car, and we were definitely a contender for the top 5. Hopefully, we will gain points down the road in future races.”
Along with current events, Regan Smith delved a bit back into his past career in 2007 and revealed changes about himself, as well as the other drivers that he raced with.
“In 2007, I was with a team who got stronger and dominated early on, except for uncontrollable problems, such as not having enough fuel,” he said.
Smith not only values the excitement of racing, but also the team aspect and community feel that this competitive sport offers.
“The team has a stronger chemistry now, more than ever, and we all communicate well together,” he stated. “I have definitely matured as a driver and understand a lot more about drivers, cars, and racing in general.”
Not only has each driver grown mentally, physically, and internally since 2007, but the realm of racing has prospered and become increasingly popular throughout the years. Smith explained that the equipment offered in 2007 was not adequate compared to what is made available now. However, Smith utilized the resources that were provided to him and he continued to prove himself and get his name out there.
One significant moment in his racing career occurred in that same year, when his team won the pole.
“This win meant a lot to us and showed how much we learned in a short amount of time and also how much the team had grown together,” Smith said.
When asked about his personal preparation for any race, Smith stated, “You have to be as smart as you can and you have to position yourself in the right place on the track. We pride ourselves on speed and we have cars that are capable of winning.” He also mentioned that he did not have a set plan for either speed race because “plans never work out as intended.”
Smith enjoys feeling the flow of a race and sensing the general mood to figure out what is best for him as a driver. He is able to quickly detect when a race is too aggressive and he relies on mere gut instinct to perform. As a firm believer of both momentum and confidence, Smith focuses his attention on the nationwide championship and hopes to be a finalist, in order to reach his desired end goal of the season.
Jeb Burton, due to make his debut on Thursday at the Kentucky Speedway, also talked about his preparation tactics, which differed slightly from those of Regan Smith.
“It’s all about easing into it and looking at the surroundings. We practiced at Kentucky and I feel prepared for the race,” he said.
On June 7th, Burton won his first NASCAR national series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We had speed and all we needed was luck,” he recalled. “The pressure is off of us to win now, but hopefully we can get into the top 5 again.”
Much of racing not only depends on the driver’s control and ability to maneuver the vehicle, but also the driver’s reaction to the conditions in order to be alert and ready for anything to happen.
Behind Jeb Burton, there is a strong support system that allows him to succeed in what he does. His main support and motivation comes from his father, former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, a man that has done a lot for him and made him into the driver and man that he is today.
“Even though I have done something different and not typical (racing), all of my dad’s hard work has paid off,” he stated. “My dad looks out for me and cares a lot about everything I do.”
He strives to emulate his father and show respect to people, always making sure he treats others how he wants to be treated. Along with his tremendous talent, his father aided him by instilling important values that make him a driver to look up to.
Because Burton has some experience with the Kentucky track, he is eager to compete.
“Kentucky has a good track. I like the bumps because it puts the race back into the drivers’ hands again,” he said.
Similar to Smith, Burton possesses the same respect for his teammates.
“We all help each other and work together,” said Burton. “We focus on us, so we can continue doing what we do.”
Aside from his father, Burton aspires to be just like his mentor Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports. The two have a bond and Johnson gives Burton “a lot of advice, both on and off the racetrack.”
“He teaches me how to be better and gives me tips on working out. He is my role model,” Burton said.
Burton closed the interview with a final comment about his current status and life saying, “I’m living the dream,” a statement that many others would agree with.
Both Regan Smith and Jeb Burton have a lot to be proud of and they deserve to be cocky, but their attitudes remain grateful, which makes them even more remarkable in the eyes of their fans. With devotion and hard work, success is only a length away for both drivers this Thursday.